Rutgers University to Host Blind Soccer National Coaching Summit

July 26, 2023

New Brunswick, N.J. (July 26, 2023) /ENDURANCE SPORTSWIRE/ – In partnership with Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation, the U.S. Association for Blind Athletes (USABA) and Rutgers University Department of Kinesiology and Health and Center for Disability Sports, Health and Wellness, will host a blind soccer coaching summit for blind and visually impaired physical education teachers and adaptive sports organizations from across the country. The event will take place Aug. 4-5 on the Rutgers University campus.

Participating organizations include the Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, New York Association for Blind Athletes, Chicago Park District Adaptive Sports Program, Miami Lighthouse for the Blind, and Northwest Association for Blind Sports. More than 10 states will be represented at the event as well as coaches and team members from the USA Blind Soccer Men’s National Team.

“The goal of this groundbreaking summit is to introduce the sport along with best practices for teaching basic blind soccer skills to youth and adult adaptive sports programs all over the country,” said USABA Blind Soccer Coordinator Katie Smith. “We also want participants to leave this event feeling prepared to coach from a grassroots level and beyond.”

Blind soccer, also known as blind football, is an adaptation of soccer for athletes with a visual impairment. Blind soccer debuted at the Athens 2004 Paralympics and has been contested at every Games since and has become the fastest-growing Paralympic sport in the world, played in over 60 countries. The U.S. has never fielded a blind soccer team at the Paralympics, but that will all change in 2028 when the Games will be held in Los Angeles and the U.S. will receive an automatic berth in the tournament as the host nation. The first USA Blind Soccer Men’s National Team was named in 2022 and began international play earlier this year.

Blind soccer is played on a rectangular field that measures 40 meters long and 20 meters wide. The whole length of the pitch is surrounded by rebound panels to prevent the ball from going out of play. The duration of the match is 50 minutes, divided into two 25-minute halves.

To ensure fair competition, all outfield players must wear eyeshades. Teams can also have off-field guides to assist them. The ball makes a noise due to a sound device located inside that helps players orient themselves. Spectators must remain silent while watching the game until a goal is scored.

Headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo., USABA is the national governing body for the sport of blind soccer in the U.S. and works with organizations across the country to implement a variety of sports for blind and visually impaired athletes.

Blind Soccer National Coaching Summit Participants
Giselle Correa Barreto (Bloomfield, N.J./Brazilian Soccer Academy)
Logan Cho (Brooklyn, N.Y./Building Blind Soccer New York Site Volunteer)
Devin Fernandez (West Islip, N.Y./Third Eye Insight for the Blind)
Valera Ferreira (Bloomfield, N.J./Brazilian Soccer Academy)
Mariana Ferreira Lopes (Bloomfield, N.J./Brazilian Soccer Academy)
Christina Frey (New York, N.Y./Recreational Therapist)
Dulce Hernandez (Colorado Springs, Colo./Travis Manion Foundation)
Ashley Kabza (Vancouver, Wash./Northwest Association for Blind Athletes)
Samantha Longo (Utica, N.Y./Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired)
Ramon Oseas de Leon (Miami, Fla./Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired)

Melissa Riemer (Arlington, Va./Arlington Soccer Association)
Nacho Valle (Brooklyn, N.Y./Building Blind Soccer New York Site Coach)

USA Blind Soccer Men’s National Team Members

Charles Catherine – USA Blind Soccer Men’s National Team

Antoine Craig – USA Blind Soccer Men’s National Team

Ahmed Shareef – USA Blind Soccer Men’s National Team

Staff Attendees
Molly Quinn – USABA CEO

Katie Smith – USA Blind Soccer Head Coach and Program Coordinator

Ryan Lazaroe – USA Blind Soccer Assistant Coach

Mark Ackermann – USABA Board Chair

Jennifer Demby – USABA Board Member & Professor Rutgers Exercise & Sport Science Department

Media Contacts:
Molly Quinn, USABA CEO (858.731.6517)
Leah Glaser, USABA Marketing Intern (860.751.4268)

Media Opportunities:

Friday, August 4 – 9-11:30 am & 2:30-5 pm
Saturday, August 5 – 9-11:30 am


The mission of USABA is to empower Americans who are blind or visually impaired to experience life-changing opportunities in sports, recreation, and physical activities, thereby educating and inspiring the nation. A member organization of both the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and U.S. Soccer, USABA is certified by the USOPC as the national governing body for the Paralympic team sports of goalball and blind soccer. Since its founding in 1976, USABA has reached more than 100,000 individuals through its multi-sport programming. The organization has emerged as more than just a world-class trainer of blind athletes, it has become a champion of the abilities of Americans who are legally blind. Learn more at www.usaba.org/.